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Wind energy project near Watson proposed

WATSON – Pure New Energy (PNE) has submitted a tender to the provincial government to create a wind energy project about three kilometres north of Watson.

The Saskatchewan government is currently looking at a series of tenders for wind and solar projects throughout the province.

PNE, a German headquartered company, submitted two proposed locations, with the larger located near Watson and the smaller located near Eston.

Lucas Duffield, PNE’s project manager of Western Canada, said that due to the competitive nature of the tender process, they won’t find out if they have been chosen until somewhere between March and May.

“Hypothetically, if our project in Watson is successful, we would expect to see some of the permitting,” Duffield said. “So that would include the final environmental studies that need to be conducted by some of the local environmental service providers in Saskatchewan.”

These environmental studies would ensure the turbines would be set far enough from water bodies, as well as animal and species studies.

Duffield said Watson’s location was chosen specifically by the company due to its distance from the proposed site to water bodies, such as Quill Lake, as well as the lack of native prairie grassland.

“Quill Lake is very similar to Reed Lake and Chaplin Lake in the southern portion of the province, and they’re special – you could almost call them ‘truck stops’ for migratory birds moving north and south in the hemisphere.”

The proposal has various possible sizes for the project ranging from 50 to 200 megawatts, with this impacting how many employees the facility would need to function.

“We would expect to see temporary jobs from anywhere from 50 to 200 construction jobs,” Duffield said. “For the long-term operation and maintenance of the facilities, it would be anywhere from three to 10. That’s largely dependent on the turbines we end up selecting.”

PNE held two open houses on their plans in the community, the first on Oct. 27 at the Watson Civic Centre and the second on Oct. 28 at the Spalding Community Hall.

Duffield said so far all the reactions to the proposed project have been positive.

“I’ve actually been following up with some of the landowners who just had questions about wind development in general. Both Eston and Watson don’t have any wind or solar developments in the area, so what I would say is we experienced zero opposition. It’s largely educational at this stage.”

The selected tenders for wind energy are expected to be in operation by 2023.

“In the event that we’re not successful in this round of the tender, there will be future tenders. We’re just excited to have a presence in Western Canada.”